Westlake’s Sheldon Stuckart is racking up the titles.
Fresh off of winning the USA Weightlifting Junior National Championships, he also has another title: Olympic hopeful.
The 2011 Westlake High School graduate and former SWC Wrestling Champion, won the 85 kg class at the USA Weightlifting Junior National Championships in San Francisco on Feb. 17, 2013.
In 2012, he placed fourth in his class at the 2012 National University Championships and in 2011, earned a gold in the 77kg class.
He will represent the USA at the Junior Worlds in Lima, Peru, this coming May, but he also has his eyes set on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
First, however, he is savoring his most recent victory.
“I had to qualify,” the 20-year-old said of the Junior Nationals. “Only 13 qualified.”
He won the title after completing three attempts each at the clean and jerk and the snatch.
“I did 120 kilos and 125 in the snatch,” he said. “It tried 130 kilos in the snatch but missed.”
He then successfully completed 148K, 153K and 158K in the clean and jerk.
“158 (kilos) was a personal record for me,” Stuckart, who competes in the 81kg (187 pound) class, said. The weight also helped him qualify to compete in Peru.
Currently, he is ranked sixth in the nation in juniors.
He presently trains two to two and a half hours a day, six days a week.
“I was training a lot for this one; I knew it was my last shot,” he said of the Junior Nationals, which allows competitors through the year they turn 20.
An Olympic goal
Stuckart trains at Lindenwood University in St. Charles Missouri, where he is also the Student Assistant Olympic Weightlifting Coach. He competes in Mens Olympic Weighlifting under Student Life Sports, varsity non-NCAA sports which quality for scholarships.
“My ultimate goal is the Olympics,” Stuckart said.
His coach, Jianping Ma, the Head Olympic Weightlifting Coach at Lindenwood University, agrees.
“He has a lot of potential,” Ma said. “From my experience, in 35 years of coaching, I’m even hopeful for the Olympics (for him).”
Ma, a former Chinese Olympian and national team coach, knows what it takes to make it on the world stage. He moved to the United States 10 years ago and began instructing at the University of Northern Iowa in 2007 after working four years with the United States Olympic Education Center.
Ma jokingly added that Stuckart, a popular sophomore, “has too many friends.”
“We’re still working on his technique, and trying to get him to gain weight,” Ma, who has only been coaching the sophomore for a year, said.
While Stuckart competes in the 81-kilo class, he only weighs about 180 and can still add on another 4 kilos, including muscle, which can make a huge difference.
Stuckart understands the importance of technique.
“It isn’t just strength, it’s a lot of technique,” he said. “Strength, technique and mind.”
Stuckart also has a strong support system, including his father, Tom, who traveled to California to see his won win the Junior Nationals.
“I need to thank my dad, family and coach,” Stuckart said. “My dad does so much for me.”
Beginnings in wrestling
Stuckart began wrestling in fifth grade and continued for two years North Olmsted High School. He then transferred to Westlake where he represented the school in the Southwestern Conference, winning the SWC title.
“At 15 I started weightlifting for wrestling,” he said. “I realized there was more scholarship money for weightlifting.”